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I’m sexy and no one knows it

I might be having a mid-life crisis.

I’m not sure because crisis is exactly the opposite of how I’m feeling, which is sexy.

Hard to believe, since I can no longer just bend down and get up in a single motion, and have a wrinkle in between the brow that is now a crevice you could lose things in. Still, I’m sashaying around wearing all my fancy clothes that are actually years old, but I would never wear before because apparently, I was saving them for my mid-life crisis. Also, I have clean hair. Never underestimate the power of clean hair.

I had no idea that this feeling was one of the mid-life symptoms. So I started researching, and sexy wasn’t anywhere on the list of what to expect.

It did say that mid-life is the time more people step out with a young lova. But this makes no sense to me. Someone young cannot see someone middle aged without causing one to die of shock and the other of embarrassment. If anything, I’d have to get me a very old, blind lova. That is, if my husband says it’s okay.

They also say there’s a lot of reassessment, and I have been contemplating my life lately and wondering if I actually have one.

Many people quit their jobs. I don’t have a job. Maybe I’ll get a job! Yeah!  That’s it.

But then how could I go to the gym to lose the five pounds I need to rock my minivan right and attract my old, blind lova? All of sudden, I understand why men buy Porsches. They’re feeling it and want to show off their badass selves, while they’re still badass.

I read that mid-life crisis’ spurs drinking, so I bought a couple of cases of wine because I like to be prepared. I don’t know if that would go over well on my new job, but I’m thertainly giving it the ole college try. urp.

Not that I’m qualified for anything anymore.

I can just see me at a business lunch, cutting up a client’s food and then, if he gets distracted by our fascinating conversation about what’s on sale at the supermarket, forking some fish into his mouth. At least since he ordered it, it wouldn’t come back out in a disgusted dribble like I just fed him clumped dirt. So there’s that.

Okay, forget the job. I’ve got too much to do anyway. Let’s see… well, the kids are all finally at school, leaving me with the bulk of the day to my own devices. It’s the first time in over ten years that I’ve had the house to myself for the hours of 8:30am-3pm.

It’s amazing. I can actually think when they’re gone.

Silence.

Think.

They are gone. My babies! Oh my babies are gone!! Oh my GOD!!!

Pause for slug of wine.

Okay, deep breaths. Much better.

I do wonder what is going on in my body that’s making feel so full of… No. Not myself. I was going to say, life. Whatever it is, I’m feeling good. Maybe I’ll take up tennis. Or start running races. Or schedule a little fix in the face? Or dye my hair a ravishing red.

Wait?! What if it’s like when a person is near death, and they all of a sudden get that last surge of energy before the end??!! Oh no!! Is this my last bit of sexy?? Then it’s gone?! FOREVER?!

Well now I’m depressed. They say that’s a sign too.

Pause for another slug.

Whatever. For the moment, I got my sexy back.

Maybe hot flashes will be better than I think.

How you doin?!

How you doin?!

I go for a run. Or so I thought.

We had so many things going on that day, but I figured I’d squeeze in a couple of miles just to kick the day off right. When my husband gave the official eye roll of agreement, I grabbed my Ziploc bag with a cinnamon mint and my cell and was off and running.

phone in bag

Trot, trot, trot. I was cruising along, minding my own mind, trying to decide whether I should wear my navy and cream maxi dress or capris with this cutesy new top my mom just bought me – yes, deep thoughts, people – when my Runkeeper app announced in that warm, automated bank teller voice, “Five minutes, .5 miles with an average pace of 10 minutes 2 seconds per mile.”*

I wasn’t really paying attention because a 10 minute mile for today’s run was perfect. Until I turned the corner and almost collided with a woman I sort of know from either baseball or elementary school or possibly from the neighborhood. She could be a friend of a friend. I don’t know, but I knew her and she knew me and we said hello as she passed me by.

I followed her butt from a car length or so behind and started racing her in my head. I sped up a little, then worried that we’d have this awkward moment where we were running side by side. I’ll just cross the street if that happens, I told myself. I wouldn’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable.

Congratulating myself on this brilliant idea, I realized that in the minutes that had passed I was no closer to catching her than I was before. Hmm. Might have to speed up a bit more. Now I’m panting, still waiting for that moment where – oh, ha ha, here we are together – but I had made zero progress.

WTF?! I did a self-confidence check. I’m in decent shape. I’m pretty competitive. I’m not a speed demon, but I’m no slack. She didn’t even look like she was running hard, while I imagine a photo of me would reveal someone who looked like they needed medical attention.

At that moment, Runkeeper announced, “15 minutes, 1.75 miles, with an average pace of 9 minutes 17 seconds per mile.*” Well, that’s certainly faster. Yet, I’m still at least a car length – if not two – behind her.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, she trips.

I watched her fall to the ground and do a kind of half roll. My mouth dropped open, and I am definitely not thinking that this is the moment I catch up to her. I am going to make sure she is okay. I get a little closer and yell, “Are you okay?” but before I reach her, she is back up and on the move again, brushing herself off as she goes.

She doesn’t even turn around, but gives me a little half wave in acknowledgment. Within two minutes, we are back at our regular spots, her striding ahead, me lagging behind.

I’m pissed – no biggie, just a pelvic wall thing from the babies – and I’m frustrated. All my dormant competitive instincts now come alive. Oh yeah, let’s take it up a notch.

I do gain a little ground, but quickly realize as I huff and puff that I am not going to blow this house down. Besides, I wonder, what would I do if I actually caught her? I could probably only match her pace for about a minute, before giving some ridiculous little wave of triumph and slowly falling back to my rightful place behind her.

No. I was humiliated enough. I slowed and followed her swaying short shorts until I hit my block and turned.  She, of course, continued on, forever in front of me, just out of reach.

When I got home, Runkeeper clocked my fastest mile at 8:27. Not bad. I probably should run with her more often.

photo (1)

*Numbers are approximately accurate, just in case you’re checking my math. 😉

There is a wall up in his studio apartment, and it’s me.

I stood at the door stiff and all business as he puttered around the cluttered apartment looking for his glasses but not finding them, brushing his hair back for the 100th time, searching for a belt to hold up his jeans which kept slipping from his slight lower body, because he was so hunched over.

He hopped around gingerly, bent at his bulging waist, more in line with the floor than the walls, trying to get ready so that we could walk down to the lobby where my husband and three boys waited. Hopped really is the wrong word. It was more of a limp, with a slight, uncoordinated bounce. He was happy to see me.

It had been over two months since we last visited. Visiting wasn’t easy for either of us. We both had expectations. I expected him to be ready to go down and see the grandkids with almost a three hour heads-up on the visit, and he expected me to understand that he couldn’t be rushed.

I understood that, but I could never understand why he couldn’t have most of this stuff done before we arrived. Or, I just couldn’t accept it. He lost time. It was why some mornings when the home health aide came in she’d find him on the floor in the bathroom, or asleep on the chair with the oven on. Alone in his apartment, minutes staring became hours of day dream, or drifted into unconsciousness. I knew it, but similar to my experience with calculus, just because I knew the answer didn’t mean it made any sense to me.

He’s brushing his gums and talking to me simultaneously, moving from the sink, closer to where I stand in the center of the room, with my arms crossed, trying not to touch anything.

“Dad, can we talk after you finish up? After we go down?” It’s been over a half an hour. My husband has called three times, unnecessarily exasperated, threatening to leave me, take the boys to a park and come back after. It’s not helpful.

He looks immediately annoyed. “I’m going as fast as I can.”

“Well, maybe if we didn’t talk in between…”

Slowly, he stops brushing, takes out his toothbrush and points it at me. “This talk is the most important part of the visit. Maybe not to you… but to me.”

I nod in acceptance, but I am expressionless. I feel myself closing up. All I want him to do is finish brushing, take his medicine, find his glasses, put in his teeth, put on his shoes, pull up his pants and go. But, he’s right. The point of my visit is to give him a sense of family, to help him connect and feel less alone, yet, from the moment I walk in, I’m guarded. Pleasant but not warm. Interested but not caring.

I note the cigarette burns on his bed spread, the boxes cluttering the small space, the dozens of medications laid out on the table and I look away. I study the over filled book shelves instead.

I should hug him, but my arms are still crossed.

http://yeahwrite.me/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/challenge121.png

My Call of Duty

He’s waiting for my call.

I can see him, crouched over on his bed, trying to rouse himself out of his stupor; hoping a call from me will do the trick, maybe give him some reason to wake up.

I don’t want to call.

I haven’t wanted to call in years. Decades, maybe. But it’s not about what I want, it’s about what he needs. And what he needs is for me to check in on him daily, just to show him someone still cares, that someone is interested in whether he lives or dies. And that someone is me. There is nobody else.

He had his home health aide there earlier but he slept through her entire shift, and now he’s woken up alone. The table is covered with medications of all colors and sizes. The room is littered with books and papers and boxes of clutter. Ash from the cigarettes he shouldn’t be smoking dusts the room.

Getting from the bed to the bathroom is a dangerous escapade with his weakened legs and broken body. Through heavily medicated eyes, he considers his path. It is all so overwhelming, he allows himself the pleasure of closing them.  Sleep is a beautiful thing.

By the time he opens them again, it is over 20 minutes later, but he doesn’t feel the passage of time. He generally doesn’t feel anything, but of course, the pain. And a nagging urge for the bathroom. He considers his walker a few feet away. He should use it for support. He has fallen at least three times this week, and his body is sore from the damage. He can’t fall again.

He wonders if it’s his body that breaks down and then he falls, or his brain that loses focus causing him to fall. Probably both. More than once, he has been woken by his home health aide on the floor, where he fell. The effort to get back up is too much. The frustration unspeakable.

He eyes the walker. In this crowded space, it can be as much an asset as a detriment. Is he strong enough to go it alone? A heavy, head drooping sigh causes him to look down at his feet and notice the rash creeping up his legs. Problems, everywhere he looks. His glance focuses in on the ice cream he took out hours ago, melted on the counter. Oh well. He can pour cereal in it and have it for breakfast, if he ever gets up.

He begins to close his eyes again, telling himself he needs just a little more rest before he makes the attempt, but really he’s just unable to find the motivation to move himself.

The phone rings, distracting his thoughts, waking him a bit, taking him to a more hopeful place.

He’s waiting for my call.

IMG03563-20121218-1223

 

My mom is Red Hot. Your Mom ain’t Diddly Squat.

Every day, I look at my reflection and think, I remember that girl’s younger sister. Every day, I see small little changes. Laugh lines that aren’t funny. Freckles that have turned to the dark side.

Every day I look at my mom and wonder how the hey she’s aging in reverse while I’m speeding light years ahead.

Why is she rolling up her shorts, while I won’t even wear a pair?

How does she go to the gym every day, play tennis and go dancing at night, while I’m exhausted just running away from my children?

I honestly don’t know if there’s ever been a 65 year-old woman so… cute.

Even as she registered herself for Medicare, the woman behind the counter, probably 20 years her junior, gushed, “Stop it! You’re not 65 years-old! You’re just the cutest thing.”

My mother smiled coyly, and showed her license. Yeah, she’s sexy too.

Having an adorable, sexy, mom, is not an easy thing for a girl starting middle age. Okay, fine, it wasn’t easy for a girl starting high school, either.

Everywhere we go, people are always assuming we’re sisters. That would be fine, if I could at least be the hot one, but it’s no guarantee. Because while I may be younger, she’s still MaryAnn with a side of Ginger from Gilligan’s Island, and I’m, uh, the Professor? It’s just how it is.

Still, she continues to try to ‘hotten’ me up.

For as long as I can remember, she’s been unbuttoning my blouse to show off a little more, reminding me to put on lipstick and fixing my hair.

I, of course, decided to never wear lipstick, or brush my hair, and for a while took to wearing large prairie dresses. I still kind of like them. Sue me.

She brings me white strips for my teeth every three months and sexy low cut tops to wear going out.

She is no longer allowed near me with a tweezer.

Not too long ago, she took one of her pretty manicured nails and pointed at the crease between my brows. “I can have that fixed.” She said with the cutest giggle.

“Mom!” I said, a little too defensively, gnawing on an unpolished nail, “Maybe I don’t want to be fixed.”

She giggled again.  “Okay. You let me know.”

Sigh. I will.

Because even though I naturally try to resist her wily ways, her hotness is a blessing. It makes me try a little harder. Run a little farther. Without her, my teeth wouldn’t be as gleaming and my cleavage would never come out to say hi.

So today, I honor my forever young mom who’s helping me to age the best I can.

Yup, that's my mom!

Youth isn’t wasted on my son

“I don’t want to grow up.” Tyler, my oldest, then only three, looked up at me with serious eyes full of concern. “I want to be a baby.”

I looked down on him, tears welling. I had done this to him, I thought. I had given him this insecurity, along with his new baby brother. Distraught, with a touch of post-partum depression, I lovingly pushed his hair aside. It was the color of amber, like his eyes. My golden boy.

Of course, I did my best to reassure him that he could never be replaced, but he was no dummy. He heard and smelled his competition from a room away. We all did.

“Silly. You’ll always be my baby, no matter how old you are.” It was the truth. Always. Always. Always. Poo Poo Poo, may he live to be 100.

He looked up at me from his blue racing car toddler bed completely dissatisfied. “No. I want to be a baby!” He confirmed and then tried to crawl up my shirt.

Having a new baby was an adjustment for all of us. I figured he was going through what children typically did when a new sibling entered the household. He would out-grow it, I assured myself. But as the months and years went on, he not only did not outgrow it, he grew more and more resolved. The theme repeated itself, playing out sometimes subtly but often with huge dramatic tears over and over.

At four…

“I don’t like birthdays.”

At five…

“I don’t want to grow up.”

At six…

“I don’t want to grow old.”

At seven…

“I don’t want to die.”

At eight…

“I don’t want you to die.”

At nine…

“I don’t like birthdays. I don’t want to get older and have to leave my house. I don’t want to go away to sleep away camp. I don’t want to go away to college.”

At 10…

Breaking down into tears, desperate. “Mommy, I’m never going to be eight or nine or ten again! Once it’s gone, it’s gone! I mean, I kind of want to be a daddy and all, but…” Looks at me soulfully, sadly before emotion almost swallows his words. “I want to be the baby too.”

My poor, wonderful, sweet boy, he already knows the truth about growing up and growing older. He’s known it all along. And no matter how much I tell him that growing up is an adventure he will love, that he will experience things he can’t even imagine, that he can do and be anything, that the journey is a beautiful trip – the basics truths of life and death are already in him. When your eyes are open, you can’t help but see.

You wouldn’t know it to look at him. He’s a typical fifth grader; smart, goofy, athletic with lots of friends. He doesn’t have that edgy, pre-teen snark. He truly appreciates being young and revels in his childishness, clinging to the remnants of his babyhood. He joyfully snuggles with his mommy, treasures his stuffed toys and loves playing with the younger kids, leading them around like Peter Pan.

He might even engage in a game of ‘House’ where you can be sure he will cast himself as the baby. Or a puppy. They both suit him. So while my 10 year-old, crawling on the floor panting happily like a dog, might seem a little immature to you, believe me, he is wise beyond his years.

 

otto peter

Not actually my son, but the costume worked. Plus, he’s family. 🙂

 

 

 

The Shape of Cindy

I glanced at the magazines as I typically do while standing in line at the supermarket. I always think it’s so nice that they put them there to help me pass the time while I wait (wink, wink). Usually I flip through US Weekly or People. Sometimes, she admits with coy, embarrassment, I grab a copy of STAR. Come on, when they have the “Stars without Makeup” or “Best and Worst Bodies”? Really, you can pretend to be above it, but I know you’re sneaking a peak.

Anyway, as my life slowly drained away waiting for the woman in front of me to finish her super interesting negotiation to the bored cashier on why she had an expired coupon, the cover of SHAPE magazine caught my attention. It was Cindy. Cindy Crawford.

For you annoying, young people who were too busy learning to go poo-poo on the potty to appreciate her heyday, Cindy, ruled the modeling world in the 90’s. During my most impressionable years, she was gorgeous but in a believable way. She was tall, but not impossibly tall. Thin, but not heroin anorexic like some of the grunge models of that day. Young, but (hee hee) a little older than me. She was with me through the big hair and the straight hair. We had babies at around the same time, and I exercised to her post baby work-out tape with all three of my kids. She was the friend I didn’t actually have.

So when I saw the cover, I experienced of moment of honest happiness to see her. My supermodel was back. Yay! I grabbed the magazine for a closer look, and my smile faded.

Oy.

Now don’t get me wrong. Cindy looks great. She’s maintained her figure and her hair cascades down the page. But – yes, there’s a but – no amount of air brushing can mistake the obvious. Cindy is old. She looks great…wait for it… for her age. Ow. That last part hurts ‘older’ women everywhere, because if Cindy looks like a woman in her forties, well, I certainly must as well. Damn.

In three seconds of sighting the cover, I did a complete 180. I was no longer happy to see my old friend. She  no longer reminded me of my youth, she reminded me that I was old. I doubt this was the effect marketing executives had hoped for. I knew Cindy was there to appeal to women like me. Women who grew up with her, who else would appreciate this blast from the past? I get it, but guess what, I don’t want to.

Getting old is weird. You almost can’t believe it’s happening to you. It’s an outer-body experience that’s happening to your body. I spend time studying myself, and can see the subtle changes occurring. They’re not terrible, but they’re there. But I don’t need a mirror to know that I’m past my prime.

For one, I just need to look at these magazines.  I don’t know a full 70% of the people they showcase. Who the hey are Chris Hemsworth, Miranda Cosgrove, Gemma Arterton, Wiz Khalifa?

Two. People now address me as ‘so & so’s’ mom. If one of my ‘so & so’s’ is with me, say, in a store, sometimes they get some free stuff just for being cute. Hey! I used to get free stuff too!

Three. I drive a mini-van.

I don’t think I need to go on.

Now I’m not saying getting old is bad. It’s a good thing. Great, if you consider the alternative. And honestly, I’m so much more comfortable with myself than I was in my 20’s. It’s just strange. A minute (okay 20 years) ago, I was fresh and new, with the world open and wanting me. Now, I’m – eeeek!!! – a middle-aged suburban mom?? OMG.

Somewhere in those 20 years, almost all of my goals changed, or very slowly subsided into the background. I don’t want to blame the children, but what-the-hey, it’s their fault. With their blessed arrival, my entire focus shifted from me to them. It’s exactly how I want it, just don’t remind me what I used to want.

I was happy before I saw Cindy on the cover. I didn’t think about any of this. Sigh. I really wish I wouldn’t have seen my old friend today.

She really does look great...for her age. Ouch. Still hurts.

She really does look great…for her age. Ouch. Still hurts.

Go Cougars!

Go Cougars!


I was going out for my sister-in-law’s 40th birthday in two hours, and was curled in the fetal position on the living-room floor with barely enough energy to lift my head. One minute I was battling dragons with Julius; the next, my eyes were drooping. When Julius’ dragon swooped in for the kill, I fell over onto the carpet. It was one of those exhausted mommy moments, where even trying to stay awake was torture. I needed to sleep. I would cry if I couldn’t.

I closed my eyes. Semi-conscious, random thoughts ran thru my brain. What will I wear tonight…? How much did I eat today…? I must have dozed, (probably because of my boring thoughts) because I was startled awake by someone sitting on me. It was Michael. “I want milk, mommy.”

“Go way.” I mumbled, but he may not have heard me, as my face was mushed into the carpet, slightly dampened with my drool.

“Mommy I want milk,” He repeated and started bobbing up and down.

“Get off.” I complained in an unflattering, whiny voice. Michael just continued rocking back and forth. “Okay. Okay.” I shifted my body, causing Michael to slide off and sat up. Adjusting my eyes, I looked at the clock. 5:48pm. Crap! That woke me. I was supposed to leave in less than half an hour. I picked myself up and went to dress. (Yes, I got Michael milk, don’t worry.)

It took 15 minutes to get myself to the door and the next 15 minutes to actually step outside it. At 7 and 10 years-old, Michael and Tyler, are better about me going out than little Julius. With him, there’s a drawn out routine of mounting anxiety, 20-50 massive hugs and kisses, until he finally puts on his brave face and backs slowly away waving “Bye-Bye.” He looks like a water fountain with someone holding their thumb over the nozzle, one second away from bursting.

Finally, I closed the door on Howard and the boys, and walked to the car swinging my overnight bag. My former fatigue had abated and was replaced with the caffeine-crack called FREEDOM. I was liberated! No making dinner, cleaning up, getting milk, playing dragons, mediating arguments or bed-time duty tonight! I picked up my sister-in-law and friends and drove to the Gansevoort Hotel on Park Avenue, singing the whole way.

We are checked in by a pretty girl with an accent (Scandinavian?) and go to the room to drop our bags. The room is modern art deco, but all the pictures on the walls have a similar theme – sex. A little weird, but the mattress is cushy and plush. I could be happy just staying here and going to bed. Now that turns me on. I am old. I am tired. I am a loser. Now just hand me my book and bowl of ice cream and get out.

I don’t say this of course. We’re here to celebrate. Howard’s baby sister is no longer the teenager with dark lipstick, bad bangs,  oversized clothes – and the messiest room. Now she’s a natural mom, with the most gorgeous hair, genuine style – and the messiest room. Some things don’t change.

After visiting the roof bar and going to dinner, we are finally ready to go out. It’s 10:45pm, my usual bedtime. The night is gorgeous. There’s a huge line to get into the club at our hotel. Pause. Should we even leave the hotel? It seems pretty popular. Why waste time and money to do the same thing we’d do right here? I look to my cohorts. They are already stepping into a cab. Apparently, I think like a suburban mom.  We head downtown.

I remember a time when getting proofed was nerve-wracking because I was using a fake ID, then there were a few years of smug pride after I turned 21 (take that bouncers!). By the time I was 30, I was pleased to be proofed, and that warm, appreciative feeling lasted for years (Yes, I’m over 21. Giggle giggle.)

Tonight, when I handed my license to an oversized, young man who shined an interrogation light in my face, I was a cougar in a bar filled with drunken cubs. He knew it. I knew it. It took a few nasty tasting shots before I was ultimately able to erase my shame. We popped in to a few more places, then hailed a cab back uptown to our hotel. Practical, suburban mom secretly tsks.

The line at our hotel’s club is still out the door, but we are guests and get right in. It is loud, dark and crowded. Everyone is young, drunk and dancing. We get drinks and dance a little too, but I am very aware that my knees ache and the high sandals I am wearing are no longer comfortable. The 25 year-olds around us don’t seem affected by the same casual complaints. I appreciate watching them. They are at once, insecure and over-confident, trying too hard or too little. Who are they? Who will they be? Their world is still a frightening and fascinating open highway.

We dance some more and then there’s the collective nod all around. It’s time to go. It’s almost 2am. Respectable. I give an inner cheer.  I made it and had fun. I look to my sister-in-law and friends. I remember back when we were the ages of the people in these bars; throwing up in the bathroom and making out with the bartender (Uh, them, not me. 😉 ). It is a long time ago and a minute. Very much changed and all the same. Time is a funny thing.

At 40, some might say it’s all down-hill, but I say, the view is better and it’s a lot easier than climbing to the top, especially with these knees.

Wake-up call

Stumbling from bed half awake, I literally hobble to the bathroom on feet that won’t walk straight, and a back bent over in a broken position. It’s 6:30am and although I’m up, it takes my body a few minutes to get with the program.

I look in the mirror, squint and look closer. Man I look bad. What the hey is going on around my eyes?! Okay, I need to stop squinting ASAP! At least my freckles are cute and sexy. Wait, I inspect more closely. OMG those aren’t FRECKLES, they’re AGE SPOTS?!  I stare at the brown spots that were once freckles. I see how each little dot has literally consumed the one next to it and grown twice its size.

As I’m staring, I notice something else. Hairs – long, dark ones by the corner of my mouth. Ew. They’re so dark, I think the hair by my lip has sucked all the pigmentation from my head and that’s why I now also need an appointment with a colorist! What is happening?! I try to pull out the offending hair, but, yeah, it’s in-grown so I wind up having to dig into my skin, and I just know I’m squinting as I attack my face with the tweezers. Now there’s a puffy red mound next to my lip and half the offending hair is still deep in there. I’m getting prettier by the minute. Why did I get out of bed? Oh, right. It is a bathroom for a reason.

Business done, I’m about to head out when my eye is attracted to the flat metal square on the floor. I’m obviously a sadist this morning. NO! My brain is screaming. Do not do it. Don’t! But of course I will. There’s no stopping me it seems. I step on, exhale all my breath and look down. What are those??

Some scraggly, old witch is missing her feet! I want to turn away but I can’t help but stare at the scaly skin, funky nails and the deformed looking appendage that looks as if a 6th toe about to be born. I walk on those things? I am so distracted by the feet I used to fancy as foot model material that I almost missed the nail in the coffin.  I’ve gained two pounds.

I want to kick the scale. I want to break the mirror! I want to…go back to bed! This is a very bad dream! Traumatized, I snuggle back under my protective covers. Someone obviously needs a whole lot of beauty sleep. I look at the clock. It is 6:34am.

I have 11 minutes to make it happen.

I Had A Great Title, But I Forgot.

I’m at the supermarket, about to pick up a cantaloupe, when a woman I don’t recognize walks directly toward my cart smiling.

“Hey,” she says, calling me by name. “How are you? How’s Howard and the boys?”

I stare a little too deeply into her face. Nothing. No recognition what-so-ever. I stall. “Good. Good. How are you guys doing?”

“Fine.” She goes on, not noticing my plastic smile and discomfort. “Jake is really liking camp.” Jake, I think, my brain fluttering at hummingbird speed to cob-webbed reference pockets for a connection. I wonder if he’s a friend of Tyler, Michael or Julius? Jake? Jake? I come up blank.

“That’s great.” I stall. An awkward silence follows. I focus my attention on squeezing a cantaloupe and gravely consider its worth, like I have a clue what a cantaloupe is supposed to squeeze like. Why doesn’t she just leave? Can’t she see she’s killing me, here?

“Ok, well. It was nice seeing you.” Finally, the torture is ending. “Call me up and we’ll set up a play date.” She sing-songs, then rolls away.

“Absolutely. Sounds good.” Waving her off, I chuck a random cantaloupe in my cart and move on, hoping not to bump into anyone else. Given the size of our town, however, the probability is more likely that I will than won’t. Come to think of it, I actually don’t think I’ve ever gone to the supermarket without seeing someone I know, or at least, someone I am supposed to know.

What is wrong with my brain?

This is a typical, recurring theme for me. I’m somewhere in town and a woman will approach me with a wide smile of recognition on her face. Sometimes I recognize them but can’t place where. Sometimes, I just don’t remember their name, and sometimes, I just have no idea. When we are out, Howard is constantly whispering in my ear, “You know who that is, right?” A good 90% of the time I don’t. The other 10%, he’ll be testing and teasing me. “Come on. Give me a break. I know who our next door neighbor is.”
“Just checking.” He’ll say with a wink. I did forget who his boss was three times already, maybe four.

It’s a running joke, but I worry.  Why can I remember where the mask is to the batman costume we haven’t put on in over a year. Or the grey army man with the black gun. Or the fork with one bent prong. Why do I know where everything is but not who anyone is?

I can’t even say I know who my kids are all the time. “Don’t do that Howard!” I yell. “I mean Julius! Tyler! Crap!” Of course, you know, the kid standing before me is Michael, grinning like cat. Arggh!

When I meet someone now, I consciously try to remember their name. I verbally repeat it, like the memory experts say, knowing full well I sound like an idiot, or an anchorwoman. “Yes, Susan, nice to meet you too. And now, the weather.” We will chat for a few minutes, then Susan departs. “Who was that?” Howard will ask, coming up next to me. “No idea.” I answer, and I really don’t. “Something with an N, maybe?”

Oh, there's the problem.

Why is this picture here again?

So today, I had another one of those moments. I’m at the gym and a blonde woman, who looks familiar but I don’t know where from, corners me on the elliptical machine and starts chatting happily. “So how’s Julius doing? Does he like the camp?” I nod as I always do. She must think I’ve overkilled on Botox, the way my face stiffens up. Finally, when she asks after my mother, I have to interrupt. Who is this chick? “I’m so sorry, but I’ve forgotten your name.”

She gives me an assessing look, but is still smiling when she says, “Of course, I’m terrible with names too. It’s Kate.”

“Of course, Kate. Sorry.” Who?

We chat a little more (Kate apparently is having a great summer and we are so setting up lunch!) and after she leaves, I’m left wondering. Kate? Kate? I keep thinking through the day. Who is Kate?

Later that night, I tell Howard about my experience, and how frustrated I was that I couldn’t place this woman and how uncomfortable that she knew so much about us.

“What was her name again?” He asked, poking his head out from behind his iPad.

I take a moment. I take another. I have no idea.